Monday, March 25, 2013

Training Time in the Multi-Dog Household

Though I've been talking a lot about all the tricks Star is learning lately, it is clear that tricks are far from her most important training tasks. Star is making great progress in controlling her impulses, walking nicely on the leash, and learning basic obedience, but she still has a way to go before she would be considered a perfect little woman by most adopters.  

Star loves to practice her tricks but the amount of energy and activity she generates is I know stressful for Lamar and Fozzie. How would YOU feel, after all, if you were a bit nervous and high-strung by nature and a little tot with poor impulse control were careening across your living room floor balanced on a pilates ball? 

So we're getting Fozzie to play with the pilates ball too, to blow off some steam and get in on the fun. What to do with Star while Fozzie is practicing his tricks? 

Get her to work on her impulse control, of course!

It is working better than I would have imagined to encourage Fozzie to do some balancing, while asking Star to sit and stay. She does it! 

OK, eventually she does it. 

And if she can sit and stay while the object of her obsession--the dog whose neck she is usually latched onto and whose back she is generally launching on top of in a frenzy of Tasmanian devil-inspired zeal--stands on a pilates ball himself, then maybe she's not so far from being a perfect little adoptable tot after all!

And Lamar? He gets treats just for watching the whole thing with any degree of tolerance. Each dog gets to practice what he or she most needs to work on, all in the same training session.
Do YOU like to find ways to train everyone all at once? Or do you, sensibly, devote one-on-one training time to all your dogs?


  1. I generally use crates to separate my dogs when I want to do training.

    Also, you shouldn't use a round pilates ball for on the ball type work with dogs, really. It makes the roach their back because it is small and round. A peanut shaped ball would be way better, or a much larger round one if you need it to be round for some reason. You want the dog to be able to stand on it with a natural stance.

  2. This is a great question. I have been training Charley in front of Finn. I am hoping that he sees her doing what is the right behavior and he'll follow. Some success there.

  3. Great post.

    Separating Honey from our foster isn't always an option when training. After all, training takes place throughout the day, not just those special times we're working exclusively on a behavior.

    I'm very thankful Honey has a good sit and stay while I'm training our current foster puppy. Unfortunately, little Bandit is too young and hyper to be calm for long if I was working with Honey. But we do try to give him short times to enjoy a toy in his crate so he thinks of it as a safe place.

    BTW, want a blog topic? Write about your secrets for managing a hyper foster, your regular dogs, and keeping your significant other from feeling neglected. Mike is having a serious case of puppy fatigue. :)

  4. To are very patient. The impulse control is probably the hardest learning experience. We personally don't like be patient. Good job Star
    Benny & Lily

  5. I definitely rely on peer pressure for training. There are a lot of things my Poodles think they are above doing, but when I praise the dogs, they do what I want.

  6. I both train individually and as a group. My goal is to get them to understand the concept of taking turns and to understand that they will be rewarded for calmly waiting. We are having great success! I've found it's really necessary to use beds or crate pads - they maintain their down stay a lot better with something to stay on. We practiced taking turns with a food dispensing toy and taking turns working on Bow last week and I'm so proud of how far they've come. So long as I remember to give the "working" dog softly spoken cues with their name preceding the cue and to reinforce the "waiting" dogs periodically with treats, they seem to really understand the concept of turns. It makes such a difference in their politeness to each other as well.

  7. We do both group and individual. Group reinforcement is probably a more accurate term. As in having them all sit nicely and patiently for a treat. It seems to have helped Callie's impulse control, watching and waiting for that treat.

  8. Ahahahaha - you have my utmost awe and respect for being able to train them all at once! I'm better one on one otherwise I am actually the one that cannot concentrate cause there's too much going on. Lol - I'm not a great multi-tasker like you are I guess! :)


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